US Grand Prix - selected driver quotes 28 Sep 2003
Justin Wilson, Jaguar (8th):
"That was by no means an easy race and I was more than happy to see the chequered flag. The start of the race was fairly clean but as the conditions kept changing it became increasingly difficult to achieve good long runs. The team did a great job today to support me and a combination of our race strategy and well-oiled pit stops certainly helped me secure eighth place. I am of course very pleased to have achieved my first Championship point here at Ford's home race and at this time in the calendar. It has been a tough few months for me but I knew that my luck would change at some point. My weekend overall has been a good learning curve for me and I am only too pleased to add to the points tally in our bid to fight for fifth in the
Constructors Championship. It was unfortunate that we could not have scored more but to be honest I was trying hard just to stay on track and to have secured a point is a real bonus"
Mark Webber, Jaguar (DNF) :
"I was really looking forward to today's race despite starting in 14th and I am naturally disappointed not to have finished. I had a good start and the first twenty laps were tough under the conditions but we made a tremendous leap forward to the extent that I was leading the race by lap twenty. As the conditions were so mixed I was not actually too sure about where I was in the order so I was quite shocked to find myself up there. The car's handling was generally good and the pace of the car evident. Unfortunately as the conditions deteriorated I was heading in for my first pit stop and a change of tyres on to shallow wets when I lost the car on corner eight. There was little I could do and of course that was the end of the race for me. We have generally had a good weekend so it is always de-motivating not to finish on a high. However, well done to Justin who scored his first point and finished the race. It was not easy out there so it was good to see that the R4 handled the conditions and secured us another point."
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st):
"This was a great and important win. I am so pleased and it was an emotional and fantastic day, after not such a good qualifying. It means a lot at a crucial stage in the championship and the tifosi have carried us to this position. Tyres played a crucial role today. At the first stop, we had decided to stay with dry tyres, but the rain got stronger as I came into pit lane and I did suggest changing the choice. But it would have been too much of a mess. So I came straight back in again for wets and they were unbelievable in these conditions. As the two other title contenders had also fitted dries, I knew I could close the gap to them because our tyres were good. Before the race, I did think I could get into the top three and I made a very good start and managed to make up some places and get into the fight. There was a lot of pressure but we got the right result. Bridgestone has been criticised this year, so this result will be a good boost for them. As for my move on Panis, I was aware of the yellow flags but I passed him well before them and then backed off early to be safe. Now we are in a good position for the last race, but of course we to finish first, first you have to finish. But
we have a reliable car and I will be looking for another win."
Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (DNF):
"I did not have a good start as I encountered problems selecting second gear as the automatic upshift was not working and I had to select the gears manually. I lost time and people overtook me as I dealt with the problem. With Montoya, we were running side by side. I thought I had left him enough space, but he touched me and I spun. But on the positive side, this was a great day for the whole team which is now ahead in both championships. I am a little bit disappointed about today, but as I am part of the team I can share the delight at Michael's win."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (2nd):
"The weather basically lost us the race victory today as we were not as quick in the wet conditions as Michael. The good news is that we still have a chance in Japan, but it's more difficult now. I made a good start from pole and was pretty much in control and had a good battle with Ralf Schumacher before he crashed out. Once the rain started things changed. We came in at the right times and didn't put a foot wrong but there was nothing we could do. Now I look forward to the final race at Suzuka in two weeks time where I know we will give it all and anything can happen in racing."
David Coulthard, McLaren (DNF):
"I made a good start where I gained a couple of positions and was running strongly during the opening stages of the race even leading at one point. When it began to rain we took a risk and decided to stay out on slicks, but obviously it didn't work and I was really struggling to keep the car on the track. My gearbox developed a problem and eventually I had to retire."
Jarno Trulli, Renault (4th):
"The car became more and more competitive during the race and, towards the end, it was really fantastic. The conditions made things more complicated today, but as a driver, you need to attack whatever the conditions, and that is what I did today. We were quick in both the dry and the wet, but I think the real damage was done by my mistake in the warm-up yesterday. I should have got pole yesterday and, had I done so, we could have looked for a much better result. I'm pleased with the performance today, but it could have been better."
Fernando Alonso, Renault (DNF):
"It's only the fourth time I have retired this year, but it is particularly frustrating because, with Ralf and Rubens both going out as well, I could have taken fourth place in the championship. We were competitive today, but I still wasn't happy with the car: it has been difficult to drive since the start of the weekend. We now have to look towards Suzuka, which should suit our package well."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan (7th):
"A good result. We didn't expect to score points so it's great considering our pace and our grid position. We did very well, despite some problems in both pit stops. Without those there was definitely the possibility to finish 6th."
Ralph Firman, Jordan (DNF):
"The conditions were wet and slippery and unfortunately at the beginning I touched with another car and lost my front wing. Later I had to change to wet then dry tyres and when I wanted to pit for wets again Giancarlo was going into the box so I had to do another lap and come back. I retired when I touched one of those plastic kerbs and the car spun round. We're not used to racing with them but it was my mistake. All round it's been a tough day."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (6th):
"A very disappointing race, basically decided by the penalty I was given for the accident with Rubens and the moment I had to pay it. Due to the changeable weather conditions, in fact, it started to rain hard just when I was given my 'drive through' penalty, which forced me to delay by one lap my pit-stop to change onto wet tyres. It is sad to lose my Drivers' Championship chances in this way, especially knowing that I just needed to finish 5th today, to keep my hopes open."
Ralf Schumacher, Williams (DNF):
"When it started to rain quite heavily around lap 20 I stayed out on the track one lap too much which was unfortunately due to a misunderstanding with my engineers on the pitwall. It was obviously not the right decision and I spun on the track, which had become very slippery, hit the barriers and had to retire from the race. The conditions out there were very difficult, very challenging. It was a very disappointing end, especially because I was right up there amongst the leaders and ahead of Michael and Kimi."
Olivier Panis, Toyota (DNF):
"We worked really well on Friday and did a fabulous job to claim third on the grid. My start was brilliant and I exited the first corner in second place. I think our original strategy would have put us in a strong position to get a good result today. We planned to stop on lap 19 for the first of our two scheduled stops, but it began to rain and we decided to change our approach. We risked running wet tyres, but unfortunately this turned out to be the wrong way to go. I was forced to pit for a nosecone change after another car hit me, but we were already way back. I stopped shortly afterwards when the car spun in the slippery conditions. Despite the race result, we can draw some positive aspects from this weekend and we will certainly learn from today's experience."
Cristiano da Matta, Toyota (9th):
"When the rain came down early in the race, we took a risk to come in for a change of tyres. Unfortunately, it didn't stay wet as long as we thought it would and the track dried up quickly, so we had to switch back to slicks. Even at this early point, we were one lap down and our race was effectively over, when it started to rain again. After we stopped again, I got a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane, but we were so far back that it made little difference. We have had a competitive package at this track all weekend and we had the pace to score good points today."
Jacques Villeneuve, BAR (DNF):
"There was no grip off the start or during the first lap but then the car improved and we were really quick on wet tyres. When it started raining we came in first to put on wets but it stopped raining at the same time, which was really bad luck. It was havoc out there. One lap too many and you're on ice and can lose 30 seconds, one lap too early and you overheat your rain tyres. We took the risk and it didn't pay off. We recovered later in the race and I was pushing hard in ninth, so we would have been there if any opportunities came our way but then the engine let go and that was the end of our race."
Jenson Button, BAR (DNF):
"Leading the US Grand Prix was a great feeling and a fantastic moment in my career, but it's massively disappointing to lose out on the best chance I've had at my first podium. The team were aware for a few laps that I was losing hydraulic pressure but there was nothing they could do about it. Before this affected the car we had an engine problem and as I came round the last corner the engine gave way. It was a really tough race generally. The changing weather made any strategic decision a gamble and we were waiting and waiting to be sure that stopping and changing to wets was the best move. We held on a bit too long and I went off as things got really slippery out there. The car was pretty much undriveable; I had a lot of oversteer and after my pitstop the car was really twitchy. Realistically Michael was going to get past me sooner or later but I was hanging in well behind him and I'm confident that, all things being equal, we could have stayed there for the rest of the race. We needed points here today and instead we missed out on a great opportunity."
Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber (3rd):
"I'm very happy! It's fantastic! Especially in our situation! We have had a very difficult season and podium finishes have definitely not been our regular targets. Today the weather and track conditions were just perfect for us. I was about to come into the pits anyway, so I decided to ask the team to change to wet tyres just as it started to rain. As it showed, this was a crucial decision. The team did a great job and it seems that our car is more competitive in wet conditions. This was our joker. However, we had a similar situation in Monza two weeks ago when it looked very promising for us too regarding points. But today I just thought of enjoying my position as much as I could and was not so much thinking of finishing on the podium. Tonight we're going on to the streets to have a party! I'll invite the whole team. We definitely have a reason to celebrate. We made a big jump in the championship. My third place gives a lot of motivation to the team. I wish it all the best for the future."
Nick Heidfeld, Sauber (5th):
"A fantastic result for the team! And congratulations to Heinz-Harald for his third place. I am happy with my own race. I made a good start and made up places, and though Button and I touched in Turn Four there was no damage. In my first stop I changed to dry tyres, which meant I had to come back in for wets soon afterwards, but that was the luck of the game today. We achieved the maximum this afternoon as a team, helped greatly by our Bridgestone tyres which worked perfectly in the conditions."
Jos Verstappen, Minardi (10th):
"I had a bad start to the race, when (Ralph) Firman hit me from behind and punctured my right rear tyre, forcing me to pit at the end of the opening lap for a replacement set. It really spoiled our race, because I think we had the strategy and the car to have gained a World Championship point this afternoon. The conditions in the race were tricky, and it was difficult to know when the optimum point was to come in and change tyres. Even so, I think we had the strategy about right, and there wasn't much more in the car today, so we did pretty much the maximum we could."
Nicolas Kiesa, Minardi (11th):
"I got a really good start, and after there was a bit of action between Jos and Ralph Firman on the first lap, I overtook them. I pushed hard after that and was able to catch up with a Jordan and a BAR, and then have a good fight with them. At the first pit stop, the team put me out on wets, which was unfortunate, as the rain then stopped and I lost time as a result. I pitted again five laps later for dry tyres and then had a good stint, the highlight of which was my first-ever F1 overtaking manoeuvre, when I passed Ralph Firman. I then had to make an extra pit stop late in the race, when not all the fuel was delivered to my car. It was a difficult day for everyone, but on the positive side, I was very pleasantly surprised by the performance of the car in the damp conditions. In addition, I was able to put the knowledge gained in my first three races to good use, while having my first experience of running a Grand Prix in wet conditions. The balance of the car remained good throughout, despite the changeable conditions. Overall, it was a good result and I'm happy for the team."
More to follow.